Last week, the Sony World Photography Awards announced this year's list of winners. American photographer John Moore was named as the L’Iris d’Or/ Professional Photographer of the Year, for his work in Liberia during the Ebola crisis. This year's contest attracted 173,444 entries from 171 countries. The organizers have been kind enough to share the winning images and some finalists with us, gathered below. Captions provided by the photographers.
L’Iris d’Or, Winner in the Current Affairs category, John Moore's "Ebola Crisis Overwhelms Liberian Capital". In the summer of 2014 Monrovia, Liberia became the epicenter of the West African Ebola epidemic, the worst in history. Although previous rural outbreaks were more easily contained, once the virus began spreading in Monrovia's dense urban environment, the results were described by Medecins Sans Frontieres as "catastrophic". With a tradition of burial rites that include the washing of the dead bodies of loved ones, Liberians became infected at alarming rates. Only a decade after a long civil war, Liberia's fragile health system was unable to cope, international agencies were slow to react, and the country struggled. President Sirleaf declared a state of emergency, and a military quarantine of the nation's largest township of West Point, proved futile. Slowly healthcare workers, both Liberian and foreign, made progress in slowing the spread of the disease, but by year's end the outcome of the regional epidemic was far from certain. Here, Omu Fahnbulleh stands over her husband Ibrahim after he fell and died in a classroom used for Ebola patients.
Another image from, John Moore's "Ebola Crisis Overwhelms Liberian Capital". A Doctors Without Borders (MSF), health worker in protective clothing carries a child suspected of having Ebola at the MSF treatment center on October 5, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. The girl and her mother, both showing symptoms of the virus, survived and were released about a week later.
From John Moore's "Ebola Crisis Overwhelms Liberian Capital". A burial team from the Liberian Red Cross sprays disinfectant over the body of a woman suspected of dying of the Ebola virus on August 14, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
2nd Place, Conceptual. "Futuristic Archaeology" 35 percent of Mongolians are still living a nomadic life and depend on their land for survival. This is increasingly difficult due to serious changes: 25 percent of the Mongolian land has turned into desert in the past 30 years. These environmental changes directly threaten the Mongolian nomadic way of life, which has been passed from generation to generation. This project attempts at recreating the museum diorama with actual people and their livestock in a real place where desertification is taking place in Mongolia. It is based on an imagined image that these people try to go into museum diorama for survival in the future.
2nd Place, Conceptual. "Futuristic Archaeology" This project attempts at recreating the museum diorama with actual people and their livestock in a real place where desertification is taking place in Mongolia. The look is accomplished with printed images on a billboard placed in conjunction with the actual landscape. I hope to accomplish a sense that the lives of these nomadic people occur between this reality and a virtual space of a museum. Mongolian traditional nomadic lifestyle might only exist in a museum in the future.
Winner, Portraiture. "Solar Portraits in Myanmar" Construction workers dig a household latrine in Pa Dan Kho Village, Kayah State. Myanmar sits at the intersection of China, India, and the ten ASEAN nations, an area home to almost half the world’s population and some of its fastest-growing economies. But despite its neighbor's successes, Myanmar lags badly behind. Just 26% of the country’s population has access to the electrical grid, at least half of whom live in cities. In rural areas, infrastructure is extremely primitive: of the estimated 68,000 villages in Myanmar, just 3,000 or so have any sort of access to power. In the 1990s, the ruling junta invited its neighbors to develop hydro-power projects in around the country, with most of the electricity produced earmarked for export. Today, overhead wires transporting power to Myanmar’s booming neighbors cast a shadow over thousands of un-electrified villages, which have seen no benefit from the export windfall earned by the government. In a country where almost all rural labor is still un-mechanized, candles - which are both expensive and dangerous - are the only source of light available once the sun sets. As building the requisite infrastructure to connect remote, rural villages to the grid will take a long time, solar energy is a viable and much-needed solution that has the potential to improve the lives of millions immediately. Small, inexpensive photovoltaic power (PV) systems can provide households with at least 12 hours of light during the night, allowing people to do more with their waking hours at no additional cost. These portraits depict the lives of inhabitants of remote areas of Myanmar who, for the first time have access to electricity through the power of solar energy.
2nd Place, Current Affairs. "Black days of Ukraine" Civilians escape from a fire at a house destroyed by air attack in the Luhanskaya village. These pictures were taken in June-July near the city of Luhansk (Luhanskaya village). I arrived there half an hour after Ukrainian army airstrikes. Buildings were destroyed and blazed, some locals were dead, while others were escaping in fear.In 2014 the conflict between rebels and the government army in Ukraine led the country into full-scale hostilities. The local residents of the strategically located city of Luhansk were left without water and electricity for three months over the summer, while constant gunfire could be heard above their heads.
3rd Place, Conceptual. "Places I've Never Been" Sainte-Chapelle - I feel a particular attraction to these buildings. I am intrigued by the relationship they have with the light and the absence of it. These images attempt to describe a personal and unique sense of space exploration. Each of the images in this series is composed of a large number of photographs taken of a specific place in the world from people I never met. These hundreds of photographic records are displayed in each of my pictures in superposed, almost transparent, layers. Like a big puzzle, I try to reconstruct the totality of the space. Calving black as the absence of light, I slowly add the images trying to match with the others no matter they are of a small detail of the building or a large part of it. This additive process of overlapping produces a resulting image, whose figure is blurred, and whose forms are diffuse but ultimately have the imprint of the figure of the object or place that was in front of those different photographs.
Winner: Contemporary Issues. From a documentary project on mental illness titled "Butterflies Chapter 3". In Ancient Greece, drifting souls were often represented by butterfly symbols. This was a direct link to Psyche, the soul goddess, who was similarly depicted with delicate lepidoptera wings. When looking for a title for my work on the mental condition, I wanted a word that elevated the individuals I had met above the stale socially created trauma and stigmatization, which had ruined their lives. The word “Butterflies” soon imposed itself as an image of a delicate but radiant state of being. A description of freedom constantly terrorized by the outside world and an unstable condition made splittable by a misplaced caress.
Winner, Sport. "Las Valkyrias de Bolivia" Bolivia is proud of being the Latin American country with the highest the number of actively working women. Bolivian women no longer are the subject to the “weaker sex” prejudice, they are rather associated with outstanding physical stamina, the inclination to struggle and the great brute strength. In the poorest neighborhood of La Paz, a bunch of female farmers from the countryside get together every Sunday in the ring for a public fight. Wearing traditional cholitas (the term originally refers to the “indigenous mixed race” people) clothes and bowlers, Bolivian Valkyries deal with even more demanding fights once they leave the ring, raising their children all by themselves and working between the fields and the urban street markets.
3rd Place, Campaign. "Plastic Trees" This series was photographed to draw attention to the pollution caused by plastic bags on the Bolivian Altiplano. The images portray small bushes, which are natives of the landscape, covered with plastic bags. The small bushes are portrayed in a way that transforms them into bigger elements, almost as if the trees wish to alert us about the size of the problem.
Winner, Lifestyle. "Ethnic Yi People Living in the Great Liangshan Mountains of China". Living in the Great Liangshan Mountains in southwest Sichuan province of China, the ethnic Yi people experienced a great societal change from the slave society to the socialist society after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Back in the depth of the Great Liangshan Mountains with backward economic development, they are living a self-sufficient farming way of life and their indigenous way of life is one of the best preserved among ethnic minorities in western China. (Fan Li/Sony World Photography Awards)
Winner, Landscape. "When I Am Laid In Earth" These fire lines I have drawn indicate where the front of the rapidly disappearing Lewis Glacier was at various times in the recent past; the years are given in the titles. In the distance, a harvest moon lights the poor, doomed glacier remnant; the gap between the fire and the ice represents the relentless melting. Relying on old maps and modern GPS surveys I have rendered a stratified history of the glacier's retreat. Mapping with a pyrograph, the melting away of the Lewis Glacier on Mt. Kenya. 1963 The flame line shows the Lewis Glacier's location in 1963.
3rd Place, Contemporary Issues. "Then The Sky Crashed Down Upon Us". One year after the Rana Plaza tragedy still hundreds of people suffer from invisible, intangibles wounds. Trauma is a normal response to a disaster like this, but still too many people suffer panic attacks or memory losses, hear continuously mourning voices imploring help or even see dead workers laying beside them. 'Although I'm still alive, Rana Plaza changed the course of my life' says a survivor. His conditions are common to hundreds of victims and their relatives, who are still unable to recover physically and, especially, psychologically from the trauma.
Winner, Arts and Culture. A girl tweets during her prom, from a series named "Prom Night". Across New Jersey and the rest of America, every spring high school seniors go through the right of passage of their high school prom. An event where everyone looks their best wearing elaborate gowns and tuxedos where one can’t differentiate their social or economic background. Teens spend hundreds of dollars for the special night.
Winner, Travel. "Aerial Views Adria" Aerial photographs of the Adriatic coastline between Ravenna and Rimini, Italy. Photographed in August 2014. The colorful umbrellas create amazing geometric patterns which contrast dramatically with the golden sand and azure-colored sea. From the air it is possible to see how almost every inch of sand is used on a busy summer's day on the Adriatic coastline.
2nd Place, Contemporary Issues. "Une Crise Humanitaire" Gore, Chad, June 1, 2014. Chad/CAR refugees/Gore hospital. Guidi Oumarou, 19, sits on a bed at Gore hospital where her 2 year-old son Mama Sale, is being treated for acute malnutrition. They arrived in Chad four months ago after two weeks walking in the bush to escape violence in CAR. She was at the hospital in CAR when the rebels circled the hospital and she had to flee with her sick boy. In eastern Chad, Sudanese refugee camps have been installed since 2004. The climatic conditions and the presence of the desert is a challenge when developing any form of sufficient agriculture to feed the people. Here the refugees are entirely dependent on distributions from the World Food Programme (WFP).